Seizure of the Hankuk Chemi

The Seizure of the Hankuk Chemi was the seizure of a South Korean oil tanker on January 4, 2021. The tanker was taken by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy. The IRGC Navy claimed in a statement that the ship was seized because of "environmental and chemical pollution concerns."[1] The tanker's South Korean owner denied any pollution.[2]


The tanker's commercial name was Hankuk Chemi (한국케미). It had departed Saudi Arabia's Al Jubail port for South Korea carrying 7,200 tons of chemicals, mostly methanol. The ship's 20 crew included: five South Koreans, eleven from Myanmar, two from Indonesia, and two from Vietnam.[3]

South Korea called for the release of the tanker on January 5, 2021. Iranian official Ali Rabiei rejected the request. He denied that the seizure constituted "hostage-taking", claiming that the only hostage was $7 billion of Iranian assets held in South Korean banks that had been frozen in accord with U.S sanctions on Iran.[4] Several days later, on January 10th, South Korea's Deputy Foreign Minister, Choi Jong Kan, met with Abbas Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, to discuss the matter.[5] Choi requested the timely release of the tanker and its crew and reportedly said that Seoul was intent on resolving the issue.[6]

In February, South Korea reportedly agreed to release at least $1 billion in Iranian assets frozen in two Korean banks.[7] Iran released the Hankuk Chemi on April 9th, 2021.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wintour, Patrick. "Iran releases South Korean tanker seized in January". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Kwai and Choe, Isabella and Sang-Hun. "South Korea Will Send Delegation to Iran Over Seized Ship". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "'Environmental pollution': Iran seizes South Korea flagged ship". Al Jazeera.
  4. ^ Denyer, Kim and Cunningham, Simon , Min Joo, Erin. "Iran denies its seizure of South Korean tanker is hostage-taking, complains of money owed". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ Ahn, Sung-mi. "Seoul, Tehran still deadlocked over seized tanker". The Korea Herald.
  6. ^ Motamedi, Maziar. "Iran, South Korea discuss frozen funds as vessel remains seized". aljazeera.
  7. ^ "South Korea Agrees To Unfreeze $1 Billion In Iranian Assets". Forbes.
  8. ^ "Iran Releases South Korean Oil Tanker". The New York Times.